Collections Up Close

collections up close Blog

Collecting pieces of Minnesota's past for the future


The Minnesota Historical Society preserves and makes available a wide range of materials chronicling Minnesota's history and culture. The goals of the Collections Department are to collect and preserve; provide access and interpretation; and engage in education and outreach. This blog is a tool to share these stories and let people know what is happening in the department.

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Happy April Fools' Day!

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | April 1, 2021

This "prize" fish is a painted wooden fish with metal fins and a synthetic fur coat mounted to wood plaque. The "trophy" was crafted by Dr. Alfred Tangen, circa 1948.
But sure to read the poem attached to the wood!
Stay safe out there, all!

Transgender Visibility Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 31, 2021

Happy International Transgender Day of Visibility!
Today we share this is a four page informational leaflet about Cece McDonald’s case and how to take action regarding it. It was published between 2012 - 2014. 
Dean Schmitz and some friends started a fight with Cece McDonald, an African American trans woman, and her friends outside a Minneapolis bar near closing time in 2011. McDonald was attacked and wounded with a glass while Schmitz and his group continued to throw punches and use racist and transphobic slurs. McDonald stabbed Schmitz in self-defense after he chased her down while she sought medical help. She was arrested and initially charged with second-degree murder. In  January 2014, she was released after serving  19 months for second-degree manslaughter in a male prison where she was often placed in solitary confinement. She continues to be an activist for LGBTQ rights today, when trans and gender nonconforming people continue to experience higher rates of violence and assault.
Here are some resources to learn more about violence against trans and non-binary people.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 30, 2021

It’s that time of year! Great waterfall viewing across the North Shore and throughout the state.
This postcard shows the waterfalls on Gooseberry River in 1920.

Remembering George Floyd

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 29, 2021

As the Derek Chauvin trial starts today, we wanted to take a moment to honor and remember George Floyd. 

This pamphlet was put together by New Dawn Theater for remembrance events last June and is now in the Library collection.


Lewis's Home Postcard

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 26, 2021

We are starting to get excited about the new Main Street exhibit, opening April 9!
This postcard shows the childhood home of Main Street's author, Sinclair Lewis, in Sauk Centre. The postcard dates from 1970.

Rocking Chair

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 25, 2021

This is a Bentwood willow rocking chair, painted dark green. The chair has an open style flared back with arm and a rolled log seat. 
This chair was used on a porch, ca. 1900.

Mini Dress

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 24, 2021

This bonded wool color blocked mini dress has a ball fringe hem, full length sleeves, standing collar, and center front zipper. 
It was made by "Craig" and worn by Barbara Grahn of Saint Paul, in 1969.


By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 23, 2021

This woodcut from our art collection show a tree atop an embankment in the rain. I
It was created in 1913 by Bertha Boynton Lum.

Train Wreck

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 22, 2021

This photograph of a train wreck was taken in 1935 by Kenneth Melvin Wright.
Photos of train wrecks seem to be so compelling as they are an exact moment frozen in time.

Happy World Poetry Day

By: Lori Williamson | Item of the Day | March 19, 2021

World Poetry Day is this Sunday, March 21. 
We have over 3,000 volumes of poetry in our Library collection of all types, topics, and quality.

The oldest one we have is a volume of Latin poetry, published in 1570. Its title is:
llvstrivm poëtarvm flores / per Octavianum Mirandulam collecti, & in locos communes digesti
In English this translates as, "The Flowers of Famous Poets, Collected by Octavianus Mirandula, & Separated into Common Sections." Flowers likely is a sort of "best of" idea.